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Aaron Nola's B-Ref WAR seems impossibly high...

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  • Aaron Nola's B-Ref WAR seems impossibly high...

    I mean, he had a great season, but 10.5 WAR great??? Kershaw's career high is 8.0! Roy Halladay used to pitch 250+ innings and he never reached 9 WAR.

    Nola pitched a mere 212 innings this year.

    Roger Clemens in 1990 had the same 10.5 WAR, but he had a 211 ERA+ that year compared to Nola's 175 and he pitched 16 more innings than Nola to boot. Greg Maddux's insane 1994 and 1995 seasons with ERA+ of 271 and 260 didn't get him to 10 WAR In either season (granted, he had only 202 IP in '94 and 209 IP in '95 due to the strike, but still Nola beats him handily on a per inning basis).

    I assume the ballpark and the defense behind Nola played a big role in getting to the 10.5 number. but are we to believe that he was 2.5 wins more valuable this year than Kershaw's top season and nearly a win better than Maddux's?

    Seems impossible.
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  • #2
    Originally posted by GiambiJuice View Post
    I mean, he had a great season, but 10.5 WAR great??? Kershaw's career high is 8.0! Roy Halladay used to pitch 250+ innings and he never reached 9 WAR.

    Nola pitched a mere 212 innings this year.

    Roger Clemens in 1990 had the same 10.5 WAR, but he had a 211 ERA+ that year compared to Nola's 175 and he pitched 16 more innings than Nola to boot. Greg Maddux's insane 1994 and 1995 seasons with ERA+ of 271 and 260 didn't get him to 10 WAR In either season (granted, he had only 202 IP in '94 and 209 IP in '95 due to the strike, but still Nola beats him handily on a per inning basis).

    I assume the ballpark and the defense behind Nola played a big role in getting to the 10.5 number. but are we to believe that he was 2.5 wins more valuable this year than Kershaw's top season and nearly a win better than Maddux's?

    Seems impossible.
    BBref is saying that the Phillies defense was so bad that it gave him an extra 16 runs (or about 1.5 WAR) That is of course silly since there is no way they played horribly behind him while he got a BABIP below .250 or whatever it was. The worst thing about how BBref deals with pitchers and defensive support is that it assumes that the defense interacted with every pitcher the same. usually it is not a big deal - but there outliers. I am sure Nola was good suppressing BABIP - but there is no way he took a terrible defense and put up a .250 BABIP based on sill alone.

    ALSO - WAR does not use ERA - it uses RA. Nola had ONE UER this season. Kershaw usually has between 5-10 per season. Their RA+ would be MUCH closer than their ERA+.

    But a 175 ERA+ at 212 IP (with only one UER) and 9 WAR (without the defensive adjustement) seems about right. He played in a hitters park and the current runs to wins conversion factor is favorable for pitchers.

    Doc and Kershaw have NEVER been given +15 runs back and usually (with good defense behind them) lose runs each year. Kershaw also pitches in a pitcher's park. And they rarely if ever had no UER. Nola's FIP based WAR is 5.6, FWIW. We can certainly be skeptical of how BBRef deal with team defense - but BBref isn't making up numbers or anything.

    By the way...Kershaw has had exactly one season in his career with 200+ IP and a 175 ERA+. He had a few others really close. But it ain't like Kershaw is blowing 215 and 175 out of the water every year. He averages 191 IP and a 159 ERA+ per season...in a pitcher's park with great defenses behind him.

    But the idea of Kershaw going out and throwing 250 IP with 200 ERA+ is a myth. He has never been that guy.

    So bottom line - you have large team defense adjustments...one single UER...major hitter's park...and favorable runs to wins conversion (lower run environment)...
    Last edited by Bothrops Atrox; 10-12-2018, 06:38 PM.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Bothrops Atrox View Post

      ALSO - WAR does not use ERA - it uses RA.
      Do they count unearned runs the same as earned runs?

      This explains a lot about how guys with a worse ERA+ can have more WAR than a guy with a better ERA+.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by SavoyBG View Post

        Do they count unearned runs the same as earned runs?

        This explains a lot about how guys with a worse ERA+ can have more WAR than a guy with a better ERA+.
        It is counted the same. It is one reason for the discrepancy - but the team defense adjustments are typically the largest factor. Using R instead of ER is a smaller, yet still important factor.

        It is controversial - but studies show that there is actually a lot of y2y correlation in which pitchers allow the most UER and which allow the fewest. Even controling for team switches, etc. It is definitely more of a skill than not and is tied heavily to contact rates, velocity of batted balls, type of batted ball trajectory, and other factors. In a perfect world, the powers that be would weigh UER a little less since the defense behind the pitcher obviously contributes some - but if the options are 1. ignoring UER completely or including them completely...they picked the right one.

        And people REALLY forget about runs to win conversion. Just estimating here - but a pitcher who saved 50 runs above average in 1992 would have about 5.9 WAR and 4.9 WAR just 5 years later.

        There is SOOOO much more to contextualizing pitching than just looking at IP and ERA.
        Last edited by Bothrops Atrox; 10-12-2018, 08:30 PM.
        1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

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        • #5
          He is the Mike Trout of pitchers.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by willshad View Post
            He is the Mike Trout of pitchers.
            Not really. When his BABIP, HR/FB, and LOB% rates stabilize next year - he will be "just" a very good pitcher next year.

            Trout will likely finish top 3 in wRC+/OPS+ (as always) while playing above average defense (in CF none-the-less) while being one of the handful of best baserunners in the league like he does every year.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bothrops Atrox View Post

              but if the options are 1. ignoring UER completely or including them completely...they picked the right one.
              But those were not the only options. There are some metrics that include just a percentage of unearned runs. I think Win Shares for one.
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              • #8
                Babip is not just defense but also luck.


                b ref gives nola full credit for the 250 babip AND gives him extra bonus for playing behind a bad defense (which it of course was with several guys playing out of position). Ignoring babip and defense is probably wrong but fully ignoring babip luck and calling it all defense is probably wrong too.

                sure defensive independent pitch stats were created to account for defense but babip is also part random and not just defensive quality although that does play a big role.

                this problem will even stick when using "objective stats" like xWOBA because even if the batted balls suggest he earned a 250 babip it doesn't mean it is repeatable
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by SavoyBG View Post

                  But those were not the only options. There are some metrics that include just a percentage of unearned runs. I think Win Shares for one.
                  Right. That is why I said "if."
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by dominik View Post
                    Babip is not just defense but also luck.


                    b ref gives nola full credit for the 250 babip AND gives him extra bonus for playing behind a bad defense (which it of course was with several guys playing out of position). Ignoring babip and defense is probably wrong but fully ignoring babip luck and calling it all defense is probably wrong too.

                    sure defensive independent pitch stats were created to account for defense but babip is also part random and not just defensive quality although that does play a big role.

                    this problem will even stick when using "objective stats" like xWOBA because even if the batted balls suggest he earned a 250 babip it doesn't mean it is repeatable
                    This issue is that in order for real team run prevention to = WAR - that "luck" run prevention has to go into somebodies bucket. The same way BABIP luck for hitters goes into the batter's bucket. Fielding luck still goes into the fielder's bucket. No WAR actually tries to identify and remove luck. Nor can it without WAR runs and wins not equaling real runs/wins. FG is concerned with pitcher luck (and pitcher luck only) and just decides to throw the babies out with the bathwater.

                    Nola absolutely had a combination of BABIP skill/defense/luck going his way. But BBref WAR isn't worried about skill or repeatability.

                    The BABIP and sequencing components of pitching will always be estimates in WAR. BBPRo tried to micromanage the issue and came up with something even more bizarre a silly than what FG and BBRef has. Perfect is the enemy of good.
                    Last edited by Bothrops Atrox; 10-13-2018, 08:17 AM.
                    1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                    1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by willshad View Post
                      He is the Mike Trout of pitchers.
                      Nola has been the best pitcher in baseball for seven years running? That's news to me.
                      My top 10 players:

                      1. Babe Ruth
                      2. Barry Bonds
                      3. Ty Cobb
                      4. Ted Williams
                      5. Willie Mays
                      6. Alex Rodriguez
                      7. Hank Aaron
                      8. Honus Wagner
                      9. Lou Gehrig
                      10. Mickey Mantle

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by GiambiJuice View Post

                        Nola has been the best pitcher in baseball for seven years running? That's news to me.
                        Maybe this is just the first of seven!

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                        • #13
                          People much smarter than me making the case much more articulately:

                          http://tangotiger.com/index.php/site...ing-adjustment
                          1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                          1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                          1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                          The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
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                          • #14
                            I seem to recall somewhere else, maybe the NL Cy thread, it was put out there that Nola was getting better fielders behind him than the other Philly starters.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bothrops Atrox View Post
                              People much smarter than me making the case much more articulately:

                              http://tangotiger.com/index.php/site...ing-adjustment
                              In 1972 the story going around was that the Phillies played much better in the field and on offense when Carlton was pitching than they did the rest of the time. Maybe that was true some since at that time the team was so bad that they knew they weren't going anywhere and could have just gone through the motions in the n on Carlton games. But you can't say that for the Nola situation since the team was at or near the top of the division for most of the year.
                              .


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